Move over Shark Girl – Williamsville has its first piece of public art.
A couple who is deeply engaged in village life has donated a cast bronze statue of two children, sitting on a bench reading a book, that was installed Monday in a pocket park between Williamsville Village Hall and the Williamsville Library.
Nick and Marcia Roth paid $6,000 for the statue, named "Best Friends," which was to be dedicated at a ceremony late Tuesday afternoon in the park along Main Street.
"We're at the point of our lives where my wife and I believe very much in philanthropy," Nick Roth said in an interview. "It was the right thing to do."
Nick Roth is retired from the banking industry, and Marcia is a retired nurse practitioner. Both are active volunteers in Williamsville.
Nick Roth serves on the village's Tree Board and its Traffic and Safety Committee. Marcia Roth is a longtime member of the village’s Beautification and Garden Walk committees. They've made previous donations to support the village's parks through a now-defunct volunteer organization.
The Roths regularly visit Sonnenberg Gardens and Mansion State Historic Park in Canandaigua. As they walked on Main Street in the city recently they spotted a statue, "Best Friends," that Mayor Ellen Polimeni and her late husband, John, had donated in 2012.
Nick Roth said he and his wife thought the statue was a good size for the pocket park, they were drawn to the image of two children – a young boy and a younger girl – studying a book or notebook and they liked how the bench appeared to be made from fallen wood. "It was exactly what was needed," he said.
They tracked down the name of the artist, Jordan Rose of the Randolph Rose Collection, in Yonkers, and commissioned a copy of the statue for the village library.
The 125-pound statue is 40 inches high and 41 inches wide, according to the village, which said it is the first piece of art on display in any public space in Williamsville.
The pocket park, located just outside the Williamsville library branch, features a pergola, stone patio, garden and seating areas. The Beautification Committee maintains the garden and committee members hope the Roths' gift spurs further donations of art for the village's parks and other public spaces, according to a statement from the village.
Nick Roth said he would like, on return visits to the pocket park, to see children posing for pictures with the statue or otherwise engaging with it.
"We just look forward to seeing people enjoying it as they pass through or spend time in that little park," he said.